Ecclesiastes 3:14 declares, “I know that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever; nothing can be put to it nor anything taken from it…” A principle is stated here about the quality of God’s work: it is forever and completely sufficient. If we apply this to the subject of salvation, we come immediately to the key question in salvation. Is it man’s work, or God’s? Does man save himself, or help save himself, or help maintain his salvation once obtained? Is salvation God’s doing, or man’s? If it is in any way man’s work, then it is not secure, but if it is God’s work, then “it shall be forever.”
According to the Word of God, man is not his own savior. In Psalm 27:1 David said, “The LORD is my light and my salvation.” In Psalm 37:39 we read, “…but the salvation of the righteous is of the LORD.” In Isaiah 12: 2 the prophet states confidently, “Behold, God is my salvation.” “Salvation is of the LORD,” declared Jonah. These are just a few of the many texts, all of which describe salvation as a work of God, not of man.
In John 10:28 our Lord states, “…I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” His very name, “Jesus,” indicates that “He shall save His people from their sins.” (Matt. 1: 21) The Apostle Paul affirms that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” not to “help sinners save themselves.” Hebrews 5:9 tells us that He is the author of “eternal salvation.” Scripture makes it abundantly clear that salvation is a work of God, and for that very reason each one who has trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and eternal life is secure forever. The believer is secure because it is God Himself who saves and keeps him. We certainly have responsibilities in the Christian life, but keeping ourselves saved is not one of them.
In fact, the believer has triple security. God the Father keeps us. “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” (Jn. 10:29) We are saved and safe in the Father’s hand. Whoever or whatever would take us from that mighty hand would have to be greater than God the Father, but He is “greater than all.” It would have to be more powerful than the Father, but “no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” Our Lord used two absolutes in this declaration. First, the word “all,” and then the words “no man.” Those allow for no exceptions. Who is strong enough to get us out of the Father’s hand? Who is stronger than God? No one! Therefore, the believer is secure in the Father’s hand.
But the child of God is also secure in the hand of the Lord Jesus, God the Son, for in the preceding verse, John 10:28, He says, “And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Eternal life is a gift from Him, not something we earn. It is something God gives, a work of God. And the Lord Jesus says that those who receive this gift from Him “shall never perish.” There is no uncertainty here. No expiration date. God the Son guarantees it, with no ifs, ands or buts, no conditions added. How can it be? The Lord continues, “neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Each believer is in His hand, which means He is personally involved in the safekeeping of the saints. For a believer to become lost, he would have to be plucked out of the Lord’s hand, and the Lord affirms that no one will do that. It has never been done and never will be. Because keeping us is God’s work, not ours, and He cannot fail! Safe in the Father’s hand, and safe in the Son’s hand, as if one were over us and the other under us, protecting our souls. What could be better? And yet, there is more!
The Scriptures teach us that not only the Father and the Son, but also the Holy Spirit is involved in our eternal security. Consider Ephesians 1:13-14. “…In whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory.” (NKJV) Let’s think for a minute about what this teaches about the security of our salvation. First of all, when we believe, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. This is not an emotional experience nor something that comes later in life. Each believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit when he believes. The seal is a mark of ownership, and also a security device. We are marked as the property of God and protected by the Holy Spirit. He is called the “earnest” (KJV), or “the guarantee of our inheritance.” The Holy Spirit personally guarantees that we reach our destination (heaven) and receive our inheritance (life eternal in glory with the Lord). Our arrival is not guaranteed by us, but by the Holy Spirit. Our conduct as believers guarantees nothing with respect to salvation, for the work of salvation was done by Christ at Calvary. When we trust in Him the Holy Spirit seals us, marks us as Christ’s, and indwells us, personally guaranteeing our inheritance. And how long does He do this? Until we commit a certain sin? No, for the text says, “until the redemption of the purchased possession.” That’s the “expiration date” we might say. As the earnest, or down payment, He guarantees that we will receive the inheritance. When is His work as the guarantor done? Not until we reach glory and enter into the fullness of salvation there in the Father’s house. This is the third powerful ingredient of our eternal security.
We are safe in the Father’s hand, and secure in the Son’s hand, and sealed within by the Holy Spirit who guarantees our entrance into glory. The entire Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, actively provides the eternal security of the believer. No one could be safer. The old hymn says, “He’s got the whole world in His hands,” but how much more personal to say, “He’s got all the true believers in His hands!” We are secure because of the power and perseverance of God, because of the sufficiency of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary! Salvation is a work of God from beginning to end.
Some worry that such teaching causes people to take a light view of sin, and to lose their fear of God. This is not the case. The security of salvation does not encourage us to sin or to think lightly of Christ’s work on the cross. On the contrary, it fills us with gratitude, and joy, knowing that our future is secure in God’s hands. It causes our hearts to overflow with reasons to worship and praise the Lord. We can sing, “My anchor holds,” and mean it! It gives us confidence to preach the gospel, knowing that the fruit is forever. It moves us to live devotedly for the Lord, as a grateful and loving response to Him who loves us with such an everlasting love. We can sing with enthusiasm and devotion words like these:
“Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe,
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
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